In the last few years, there have been great advances in the field of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Therapy. These treatments hold a great deal of promise for the treatment of a variety of orthopedic conditions. Most treatments are offered at your convenience in a medical clinic setting without the need for surgery.
What is Regenerative Medicine?
Regenerative medicine is a multi-disciplinary field that aims to restore damaged or diseased tissues by utilizing the body’s own natural healing process. By bringing together many different disciplines such as cellular biology, genetics, and tissue engineering, Regenerative Medicine has revolutionized the way physicians can treat orthopedic conditions. Stimulating our body’s natural ability to heal and promote tissue regeneration has replaced many traditional treatment options such as steroid injections or surgery.
Stem Cell Therapy
According to the International Society for Stem Cell Research’s (ISSCR) president, Douglas Melton, “Stem cell science is rapidly transforming how we think about the future of medicine. The field is actively working to address how we facilitate getting potential therapies from the lab to the clinic.”
Stem cells have the ability to develop into many different types of cells in the body, which is why stem cell therapy is important in the field of regenerative medicine. There is constant advancement of research in the use of stem cell for replacement of damaged tissue or transplants, drug testing and development and regenerative medicine.
How are Stem Cell Therapy and Regenerative Medicine Related?
There is a direct connection to stem cell therapy and the practice of Regenerative Medicine which harnesses the body’s ability to heal itself and regrow tissues. The different types of stem cells, namely embryonic, adult, and induced pluripotent stem cells, are used in the field of developmental biology to study how cells behave. Stem cells are also used to test new to drugs for the treatment of various diseases and medical conditions. In the field of orthopedics, adult stem cells play a crucial role in the cell-based therapies used to treat orthopedic injuries such as knee osteoarthritis.
What Orthopedic Conditions Can Be Treated with Cell-Based Therapies?
- Knee pain due to osteoarthritis or meniscus tears
- Shoulder pain due to rotator cuff tendon tears or tendinitis
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Golfer’s Elbow and Tennis Elbow
- Chronic ankle ligament sprains
- Low back pain due to disc degeneration or sacroiliac joint ligament injury
Regenerative medicine has entered the world of clinical practice thanks to quickly evolving technology and advancements in the understanding of how stem cells work in the body. As research continues, the field of Regenerative Medicine and stem cell therapy will continue to grow, providing doctors and their patients the ability to treat many conditions that were previously untreatable.
NCBI: Regenerative Medicine
UNMC: Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
International Society of Stem Cell Research: Stem Cell Therapies and Regenerative Medicine
California Stem Cell Agency: The Power of Stem Cells
American Association of Blood Banks: Regenerative Medicine
What are Exosomes?
Exosomes are microscopic bubbles packed full of proteins and genetic material such as DNA and RNA. When released from cells they allow those cells to communicate with each other. The molecules and genetic material direct cell behavior such as cell growth or differentiation.
In the past decade, interest in exosomes has exploded for several reasons. First, they allow communication between cells and aid in tissue repair and regeneration. Second, they have been proposed to be useful vehicles for drugs and could be used as therapeutic agents. Third, they can be useful biomarkers of disease which aids in diagnoses and prognosis.
What is the difference between Exosomes and Stem Cells?
Stem cells are living things that have the ability to renew themselves and to turn into different kinds of cells. They contain thousands of molecules known to decrease inflammation, regenerate tissue and fight infection. Exosomes are substances secreted by all cells, including stem cells.
During the repair process, different kinds of cells or molecules are needed at the different stages of healing. The stem cells act like the conductor in an orchestra, directing cells where to go and what to do. They organize the complex symphony of cellular activity that leads to tissue healing. Different types of exosomes are produced by the stem cells and released at different times depending upon the needs of the body.
Can we use manufactured products that contain exosomes to treat orthopedic conditions?
There are currently no FDA approved exosome products. These products require FDA approval before they can be marketed for use in patients. Their safety and efficacy have not yet been proven. Although they have the potential to repair injuries and regenerate tissues, there is still much to be learned about their behavior in the body. Patients should avoid exosomes until research studies prove they are safe and effective.
STEM CELL RESEARCHERS AND THE FDA WARN PATIENTS ABOUT FRAUDULENT CLINICS THAT SELL ILLEGAL BIRTH TISSUE PRODUCTS
Stem cell therapies have the potential to treat many medical conditions that were previously untreatable. But, despite their enormous promise, stem cell therapies are only in the early stages of clinical development. For the past two decades, hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted, but much more work is required to prove the safety and efficacy of these treatments.
Recently, the FDA posted a warning to patients about the rising number of illegal stem cell clinics. In addition, a newly released short film documents the fraudulent and illegal activity of these stem cell clinics. Experts in the field were interviewed and shared their experience, warning patients about the fraud and abuse that is rampant in the United States.
Unscrupulous healthcare providers sell illegal birth tissue products and fraudulently promote them as “stem cell therapy”. These products include amniotic fluid, umbilical cord blood and exosomes. They are not FDA approved because they have not been tested for safety or efficacy. Physicians are not permitted to use them. In fact, patients have been harmed by them. And not surprisingly, none of these products have been shown to contain actual live stem cells.
Patient Education is Key
The physicians at San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group support the experts and would like to educate patients about the risks of using illegal stem cell products. We only use FDA compliant cell therapies for our patients. We do not use birth tissue products because they have not been tested for safety or efficacy and are not permitted by the FDA. Our physicians are recognized leaders in the field of Orthobiologics, conduct FDA approved stem cell research and have published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
To learn more, please download our free E-book, The Patient’s Guide to Stem Cells.
The human body is programmed to heal. Whether it is recovering from a small scrape or from major surgery the body’s initial response to any kind of injury or trauma is to kick into healing mode.
But sometimes it can use a little help. And that is what cell-based therapies offer.
How Cell-Based Therapy Works
Cell-based therapy assists the body to heal injured tissues. This is especially useful for the treatment of injured tendons, ligaments and joints. Cell-based therapy delivers targeted healing factors that are taken from the patient’s own cells to boost the body’s ability to speed healing and recovery.
There are several treatments options available, and each one offers unique benefits that enable your physician to choose the best option for you.
- Platelet Rich Plasma therapy concentrates platelet cells from the blood and delivers them to the injured tissues. These cells are rich in growth factors that are needed to initiate the body’s healing and repair processes. Using a patient’s own blood, the platelets are separated and concentrated. They are then placed into the injured area to boost healing.
- Prolotherapy delivers a targeted solution of concentrated dextrose and local anesthetic to injured ligaments, tendons or joints. The body responds to the dextrose solution as an irritant which, triggers healing responses that had stalled prematurely.
- Stem Cells are found throughout the body and are activated when an injury occurs. Tissue harvested from the patient’s own bone marrow or adipose (fat) contain mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). They activate healing by producing molecules that direct other cells in the area to form new blood vessels, awaken resident progenitors and stimulate new tissue growth. Cells can be obtained from several sources, however, only bone marrow and adipose (fat) tissue are FDA-compliant for orthopedic indications. Umbilical cord blood products are not approved by the FDA and not supported by clinical research for orthopedic use.
What to Expect While Recovering from Therapy
Unlike major surgery, cell-based therapies do not require hospitalization. They are performed in our office procedure suite with local anesthetic. Recovery usually takes less than 4 days from these minimally invasive procedures.
There may be some swelling and discomfort in the injected area, but these symptoms typically lessen within a few days. Patients begin physical therapy to regain strength and range of motion within the first few weeks. Depending on the extent of the original injury, as well as the specific treatment used, some patients are able to resume their normal activity levels just days after their procedures.
Staying well hydrated and following a nutrient-rich diet are key to overall wellness and are especially important before and after these treatments since the body’s requires high-quality fuel to power their healing efforts.
San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group is a leader in regenerative medicine therapies and offers a great variety of treatment options depending upon each patient’s unique needs. With decades of experience in the field of minimally invasive interventional treatments, Drs. Christopher J. Rogers and Mary A. Ambach are experts in the field of regenerative medicine. They serve as faculty members and lecturers at national and international medical conferences and serve on the board of directors for several national regenerative medicine organizations.
Fat is an important tissue in the body. Fat provides energy, helps the body stay warm and plays a key role in the absorption of important nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. It also helps the body heal because it contains cells that repair and replace damaged or injured tissue. These adipose derived stem cells, also known as pericytes, form new blood vessels, awaken native stem cells and stimulate the growth of new tissues.
How is Adipose Stem Cell Therapy Different from Bone Marrow Stem Cell Therapy?
Both adipose and bone marrow stem cell therapy have the power to heal. They each offer unique benefits that can address the specific healing needs of an individual patient, based on the extent of their injury or tissue damage.
The benefits of adipose stem cell therapy include:
- High Volume of Healing Cells: Studies have shown that adipose tissue may contain as many as 500 times the number of regenerative cells than an equivalent volume of bone marrow aspirate.
- Age-Resilient: Fat cells maintain certain reparative properties regardless of a person’s age. Bone marrow derived cells may lose their healing capacity with age.
- Flexibility: Research has demonstrated that fat cells and bone marrow derived cells can be used to repair and heal tissue in multiple sites of the body, including cartilage and tendons in the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders.
The LIPOGEMS® Advantage
San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group was one of the first medical centers in the country to offer LIPOGEMS®, an adipose-based regenerative therapy for orthopedic conditions.
LIPOGEMS® preserves the healing properties of the cells without jeopardizing their structure and function. This means the cells work together naturally, as they do normally in the body, to assist in the healing of injured tissues.
Like all cell based treatments offered at San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group, LIPOGEMS® is an autologous procedure, which means the patient’s own fat cells are used. Our practice does not endorse the use of donor cell products because they have not been tested for safety or efficacy.
These minimally invasive procedures are performed in our office procedure suites with excellent safety and comfort. The patient’s own fat cells are harvested, processed into small clusters and administered to the patient on the same day.
Positive Pain Relief Using Adipose Stem Cell Therapy
More than 20 clinical studies using LIPOGEMS® are underway worldwide and the initial reports indicate that more than 90% of patients experienced significant relief with the treatment. They are able to resume normal physical activity without pain which is critical to maintaining wellness and enjoying a higher quality of life.
With decades of experience in regenerative medicine, Drs. Christopher J. Rogers and Mary A. Ambach of San Diego Orthobiologics Medical Group are recognized experts in the field of Regenerative Medicine. They were the first clinicians in San Diego to use LIPOGEMS® and continue to advance the field by participating in FDA approved clinical trials. They serve as faculty members and lecturers at national and international medical conferences. They also serve on the board of directors for several national regenerative medicine organizations.